If, like the TV show says, America’s Got Talent, it stands to reason that’s only because towns all across America are filled with talented people. Towns like Yorktown.
That deductive reasoning will be on full display come Friday, Feb. 7, as 13 of our talented neighbors strut their stuff at Yorktown Stage for a chance to win some cash and bragging rights.
The truth is, though, they’re all winners worthy of applause and admiration for simply putting themselves out there. That’s why it’s fitting to present all 13 of the entrants to you in this space. If you know any of them, try your best to be there to cheer them on.
The competition has youth and adult categories, with one act from each division walking away with $300. As reported last week in these pages, the local celebrity judges making that call are Councilwoman Alice Roker, Yorktown Police Chief Robert Noble, Town Justice Gary J. Raniolo, and hometown country music star Jessica Lynn. Some character who calls himself Bruce The Blog is master of ceremonies.
The only criterion that was required to perform is proof of Yorktown residency. This event is in no way affiliated with NBC-TV’s America’s Got Talent.
For more info, visit yorktownstage.org.
YOUTH CONTESTANTS (16 + under)
Sophia is eight years old and attends third grade at Mohansic elementary school. She has a dog named Cody, and likes to draw, swim at the Goldfish school, and train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. She also loves to sing and play the piano. Her favorite foods are mac & cheese, burgers and chocolate ice cream. Sophia is Polish and Ukrainian.
Lucia is a ninth grader who has enjoyed theatre as an avid performer since age six. She plays soccer for Yorktown High School, and is a self-taught pianist. In her spare time, Lucia enjoys writing, painting, and singing. She is pursuing a career in the performing arts.
Erisa is an eleven-year-old, solo-finger-style guitarist, harmonica player and singer. Erisa is well known in the area for playing her custom-made jumbo x30 Emerald guitar from Ireland. She is a self-taught musician who has at least 100 songs memorized, loves blues and classic rock, and now is writing her own songs. Influences include Bob Dylan and Tracy Chapman. Erisa feels blessed to play music and hopes to inspire other young people.
Maeve is 14 years old and loves karate. She started at age four at Suzuki Dojo. She earned her black belt at age 9, her second-degree (Dan) black belt at 11, and her adult black belt last May. Karate has taught her not only fighting and defensive skills but discipline and respect for her dojo, and her sensei, Suzuki. For Maeve, karate is not just a sport, but a way of life.
Zachary is a fourth grade student at Crompond Elementary School. He loves to sing and is a member of both the Children’s and Contemporary Choirs at Seton Church, and cants at Mass with his older sister. Zachary also enjoys taekwondo, playing Minecraft, and participating in various Boy Scout activities with his mates from Den 6.
THE PIE BROTHERS
Matt Hullstrung (18), Robert Varga (17), Steven Fitzgerald (16) and Dan Mangiafridda (15) are students at Lakeland High School who perform as a saxophone quartet under the name The Pie Brothers. The four buddies came together through their love of playing saxophone--and eating pie. Steven, along with his older brothers, is a proud Eagle Scout.
Ethan is a 13-year-old eighth grader at Mildred E. Strang Middle School. He started playing piano at seven years old, and now is a pre-college student at the Manhattan School of Music. He is a Star Scout in Troop 267 of Boy Scouts. In his spare time, Ethan likes tennis, which he plays at Club Fit, and swims for the Yorktown High School varsity and Club Fit teams.
ADULT CONTESTANTS (17 + over)
Meredith has been singing and playing guitar since she was very young. She’s participated in many musicals at her middle school, high school, and Yorktown Stage. She is excited to be part of the talent contest, which is one of her last shows before heading to college.
Caitlin is 27 years old and began hoop dancing in 2014, after discovering it at Mountain Jam Music Festival in Hunter, New York. She’s performed at several events in the tri-state area, teaches adult and children’s classes in Westchester County, and founded Westchester Hoop Troupe – whose mission is to spread awareness of Flow Arts and its positive benefits to mind, body and soul. “My once-little hobby ignited into my passion and I’m excited to share it with you all. I hope my performance inspires someone to pick up a hoop and join the Flow Arts community.”
Joe is a singer-songwriter, filmmaker, and location sound recordist. His and wife Emily’s daughter, Maeve, is a Cub Scout.
An 18-year-old senior at Yorktown High School, Leila has played the harp for 10 years. She was recently featured on NPR’s “From the Top” and is principal harpist with the New York Youth Symphony. She also has played with other youth orchestras in the region. In addition to Carnegie Hall and New World Center, Leila has performed with her school chorus at nursing homes, for children in need, and for a New York state senator. She won a scholarship from the booster club First Nighters of Yorktown Schools, enabling her to attend Elyrica, a summer harp and flute chamber music program.
CAROLINE & JOHN PATERNO
Caroline and John have been married for 17 years and have two children, Ethan (10) and Mary (5). Caroline is site director at Country Children’s Center in Yorktown, and John is a graphic designer for Mavis Tire Corp. in Millwood. They first learned to swing dance for their wedding, and were thrilled to practice again with their original instructor to prepare for Yorktown’s Got Talent. John volunteers as an Assistant Scout Master and their son Ethan (having earned his Arrow of Light award) is joining Scout Troop 165 next month.
Mike has served as a Eucharistic Minister at St. Patrick’s Church for more 18 years. He has been a scout master for Cub Scout Pack #173, and has served on the steering and food/beverage committees for Kennedy Catholic High School’s annual auction. He is married with one adult son. Originally from the Bronx, Mike has been singing (with an Elvis influence) since his early teens, and enjoys giving his performances a “royal” flair.